Combine Reykjavik's city sightseeing with the three most popular attractions in South Iceland: Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall and Geysir geothermal field. A tour to make the most of your day!
Althingi was founded at Thingvellir in 930 (“the Assembly Fields” or “Parliaments Plains”). Althingi, which was held in summer each year, is one of the oldest extant parliamentary institutions in the world. To begin with Althingi was attended by the community leaders, called Godar, and their supporters, called thingmenn. The Godar would discuss and pass legislation and dispense justice. Althingi was a huge assembly each year, drawing large crowds and considered one of the main events in Iceland each year.
Althingi held its sessions at Thingvellir up until 1799 then was discontinued for some decades. Althingi was restored in 1844 and moved to the capital city Reykjavik, there it has be held ever since. The role of Althingi has changed somewhat through the ages, but its main function today is to discuss and pass legislation. Today there are 63 members of the parliament, voted by the public. They are no longer called Godar, obviously, but are instead called thingmenn, which translates as People of the Althingi or Parliament.
In 1881 the Althingishus (Parliament House) was build and is now one of the oldest stone buildings in Iceland. The house is made out of hewn Icelandic stone and is a classical 19th century structure, designed by the Danish architect Ferdinand Meldahl.
Althingishusid has also housed the Icelandic National Library and Antiquaries Collection, and later the Icelandic National Gallery. The University of Iceland used the first floor of the house from 1911 to 1940, and the President of Iceland had his offices in the building until 1973.
Today, only the debating chamber, a few small meeting rooms and the offices of some of the senior parliamentary staff are actually located in Althingishusid. Committee meeting rooms, parliamentarians’ offices and most of Althingi's secretariat are located in other buildings in the area around Austurvollur square. There are currently plans to build a new building to house these offices and meeting rooms in the area immediately to the west of Althingishusid.